North Miami Beach: a Spanish monastery was brought stone by stone

“Did you confirm that it is open?” Alexis asks me when I say that I want to go to the Spanish Monastery of Sacramenia, in North Miami Beach. “Yes. In Google they say that today Thursday is open. I’m talking about the cloisters and dependencies of the Sacramenia monastery, in Segovia, Spain, which in 1925 was dismantled brick by brick and brought to the United States.

When we arrive at the monastery and dispatch the taxi, a sign surprises us. Is closed! In addition, an employee standing by the wrought iron gate warns us that, however, is open. Alexis asks him to find out if they allow us to enter. He calls, but the answer is ‘No’. Still, I refuse to leave, as if waiting for a miracle. The manager, Carolina Del Vecchio, approaches, begins to close the gate and clarifies: ‘It is closed because a wedding will be held.’ But, I say, ‘on the Internet it said that it is open’. She gives us explanations, but keeps refusing until somehow Alexis convinces her. He gives way and accompanies us, telling the story of the building, while we walk through corridors where coats of arms from other constructions appear. Open the chapel (it was locked): ‘It is not Catholic, but Episcopal. Here was the kitchen ‘and the refectory. I observe the surroundings. When leaving it closes with key. It suggests a walk through the patio: a bucolic scene lulled by the murmur of a nearby fountain. Surrounded by age-old stones, I head towards the well.


The medieval monastery of Sacramenia is one of the oldest monuments in the United States. Its construction began in 1133 AD, being called Our Lady, Queen of the Angels. Then, from San Bernardo de Clarava. In the 1830s the cloisters were sold and converted into a barn and stable.

In 1925, William Randolph Hearst bought the monastery’s cloisters and outbuildings to bring them to the United States. They dismantled the structure stone by stone and numbered 11,000 boxes. Because of Hearst’s financial problems, they spent 26 years in a New York warehouse. In 1952 two businessmen bought it to use it as a tourist attraction. After 19 months of assembling, it was acquired in 1964 by Robert Pentland Jr., a billionaire, benefactor of Episcopal churches.


The boxes were numbered so that each stone would occupy its same place when assembled, but due to an epidemic at the point of origin, they were opened in New York to dump the hay that protected them. When putting them away, they did so disorganized, preventing their exact placement. (Some elements belong to another Segovian monastery).